How is it that…

How is it that music can take you out of your daily life and deposit you in a memory almost twenty years old? I remembered a song the other day that I have not heard (or even thought of) for about 18 years. In that single moment of remembering, I was flung back to my late teens— time travelling on sound waves— to some of the most long-forgotten but delicious memories . For those of you old enough to remember the song, it was Nightswimming by REM.

I have always loved swimming at night, especially in the dark, though not in water that is home to other living things—Jaws cured me of that. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about a fixation with being in water in the dark…something about returning to the womb perhaps? I just like the silence of the dark, the water lapping against some unseen barrier, the sensation of being surrounded and secret. I might stop there….there may be one or two of you who know why…let’s keep it that way : )

How is it that a book can transport you to a world in seconds so effectively, in fact, that when you lift your eyes from the page, you are there, emotionally, with the characters, falling in love, grieving the loss of a loved one or floating hopeful through your day? I remember a book I read once that cured me forever of the bad habit of putting a  book aside because I didn’t like where the story was going. The book’s name escapes me, but it was written by Bodie Thoene. In the thrid(ish) book of the series, one of the main characters dies in a bomb blast. I remember reading the scene, the pit-of-my-stomach grief that followed and was marked by four days of ignoring the offending book—an unnoticed protest at the author’s poor sense of story and her homicidal cruelty to my favourite character. I picked up the book the following week and discovered, to my chagrin, that the cliff-hanger bomb blast had not, in fact,  killed the character that I had—for days—been mourning. I learned my lesson well! It’s a good thing too, or I might never have finished New Moon! Twigeeks will know what I mean.

How is it that a smell can transport you half way across the world to the bedroom you had as a child in Africa, the warm scent of jasmine washing over you in waves of pure spring pleasure? I will not think about the other smells that take me back: disinfectant, blood, Earl Grey tea (oh yes, you heard me…evil Earl Grey, thou shalt not have me!).

What are your favourite triggers for long-forgotten memories or sensations?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Arianne
    Nov 15, 2011 @ 11:07:26

    I get that too…the dreams about flying! Mine usually come after I have eaten (or smelled) mulberries because we had this huge mulberry tree in the garden where I grew up and my flying dreams always involved me running down to that tree before I could finally lift off!
    You would have made a good Superman—I can see it! Live the dream, I say—go get those red undies and fly…..good luck finding a phone booth to change in though! X



  2. Ross
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 22:03:09

    There is a very particular synthetic fabric, which I only catch a whiff of once in a blue moon, but it instantly reminds me of the cape on my Superman outfit, which I wore proudly when I was about 6 or 7. That thing was so synthetic that it would probably go up like a Roman candle if it encountered so much as a spark of static electricity, but I remember the feeling that I was invincible and could fly anywhere in the world when I was wearing that costume.

    Smelling whatever fabric it is nowadays – and I still have no idea what it was made of, as I’ve never actually *seen* the material – always results in me dreaming of flying when next I sleep.



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